Corrections Programming

Trend: States supplement continued emphasis on institutional programming with locally administered interventions that stress public safety and offender accountability.

State Responses noted that increases in violent crime by juveniles and changes in transfer and sentencing laws designed to punish them resulted in dramatic shifts in corrections programming. Adult corrections systems were challenged to develop programming for younger inmates. Juvenile corrections systems were burdened by an influx of older, more violent offenders who stayed for longer periods of time. The challenges to adult and juvenile corrections systems across the country resulted in several models of secure corrections programming for young offenders. (See Sidebar, "Louisiana Supreme Court")

Louisiana Supreme Court Strikes Down Statute Authorizing Administrative Transfer of Delinquent Youth to Adult Facilities

During the 1997 legislative session, Louisiana enacted a law that required juveniles adjudicated delinquent by the juvenile court to be transferred at age of majority (17), without the benefit of a hearing, to adult corrections facilities to serve the remainder of their juvenile court disposition. (Note: South Carolina has a long- standing statute that authorizes a similar procedure.)

The Louisiana code, effective July 14, 1997, was promptly challenged in the East Baton Rouge Parish Juvenile Court and ultimately struck down by the Louisiana Supreme Court as a violation of a juvenile's due process rights guaranteed under the State constitution. The provision would have required juveniles to perform hard labor without an opportunity for a jury trial. In its legal opinion, the Court provided a historical synopsis of the juvenile justice system and important features of the system and commented:

"The changing nature of juvenile crime has engendered changes in the nature of the juvenile delinquency adjudication which have blurred the distinction between juvenile and adult procedures. . . . The legislation before us today represents a wholesale reversal of one hundred years of state policy wherein adjudicated juvenile delinquents have been treated in a non-criminal fashion. . . . The hallmark of special juvenile procedures is their non-criminal nature. If, after adjudication in the juvenile court, the juvenile can be committed to a place of penal servitude and required to perform hard labor alongside convicted felons, then the entire claim of parens patriae becomes a hypocritical mockery." [In re C.B., R.B., T.C., R.C., S.C., No. 97-KA-2783 (La., 3/11/98)].

Whereas the earlier trend entailed new secure institutional capacity to handle the presumed onslaught of violent juvenile offenders, the recent trend has been toward authorizing and funding the development of community-based interventions and supervision of these offenders within a framework of public safety and offender accountability (see table 4 and sidebar "Implementing Extended Juvenile Jurisdiction").

table 4

Implementing Extended Juvenile Jurisdiction in Hennepin County, MN

In an extended jurisdiction juvenile (EJJ) proceeding authorized by the legislature in 1995, the juvenile court judge imposes both a juvenile and an adult sentence; the adult sanction is suspended pending successful completion of the juvenile disposition. The juvenile court has jurisdiction over EJJ matters until the offender turns 21 (19 for other delinquents).

In 1996, 120 juveniles were designated EJJ in Hennepin County (Minneapolis). The Community Corrections Department devised an EJJ Services Plan for supervising these cases in the community with a continuum of services that includes secure and nonsecure placements, community-based programming, probation supervision, family-based or independent living arrangements, and aftercare. In addition, the department established a new EJJ probation team to assess and supervise all EJJ-designated offenders. The team's mission is to promote public safety and provide the placements and services required to keep these juveniles in the community and out of prison. The probation team works closely with community outreach workers and volunteers in community-based offices.

Source: Bryan, F. 1997. Hennepin County Community Corrections Extended Jurisdiction Juvenile Services Plan. Minneapolis, MN: Hennepin County Community Corrections.

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State Legislative Responses to Violent Juvenile Crime: 1996-97 Update Juvenile Justice Bulletin   ·  November 1998